Looking to model 1955-1965 and need some help...

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by vanda32547, Oct 5, 2004.

  1. vanda32547

    vanda32547 Member

    Hey Ya'll,

    I am planning on modelling the period between (approximately) 1955-1965 and need some expert advise and suggestions. :)

    I am modelling this period because I understand that it was the transition period from steam to diesel...is this correct? :confused:

    Also I will be replacing all my DC locos with new ones from that period with DCC encoders for my new DCC layout, however I am not so sure which engines I should get for that period? Any suggestions?

    I am planning on running (1-2) 4-6-2 Locomotives and (2-3) Diesels DCC Engines ... any suggestions on reliable brands, good prices, or roadnames popular at that time?

    Thanks for any help,
  2. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Transistion period would be more like late forties early fifties. Mainline steam was pretty rare by 56 or so, except N&W who hung in a few more years. Others will tell of exceptions but in general steam was gone.

    In regard to which locos, there are so many appropriate ones, and they're darn good quality too, that it's pretty much up to you as to what tickles your fancy. You mention which roadnames were popular at that time, so I assume you haven't got a railroad you are particularly interested in. Lots of people just buy whatever looks good to them, and that's fine but you may want to take some time to think about what area you're mostly interested in and at least use that to limit your selections in regard to roadnames. If you can, look thru books on the railroads in your area and see if one attracts you more than the others. When you have narrowed down the field, post back here and folks can advise on specific models by various mfrs which are good/no good.

    Good luck, and have fun!
  3. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Generally, the railroads that served the coal mines, hung on to steam the longest. The Santa Fe which ran much of their mileage through deserts where what water was available was so alkaline that they virtually had to import water to about 1/2 of the total mainline were almost entirely converted to diesel by 1950. I think steam had one last hurrah in 1955 or so on the Santa Fe. By the way, when a railroad converted to diesel will also affect what types of diesels were run. The Santa Fe converted so early that they had a lot of "f" units. The coal roads, on the other hand, were so late changing over that for many of them their first diesel was a second generation unit like a GP30 or similar unit.
  4. Chessie6459

    Chessie6459 Gauge Oldtimer

    The N&W ended steam operations in 1960 only because of the coal mines. Just like Russ Bellinis those who served the mines hung onto steam the longest.
  5. vanda32547

    vanda32547 Member

    Thanks all for the education and clearification.

    I favor the Western region of the country because I like the rock formations and look of the old western towns. I might take your advice and do the "coal" type and use Santa Fe as a guide.

    Right now I have all Southern Pacific diesel engines and a couple of odd balls that I will be selling off on Ebay. Also I have some longer passenger cars (Souhtern Pacific & Pennsy) that I will be getting rid of for a smaller older style passenger car set which I just purchased.

    Keep those ideas & suggestions coming...thanks,
  6. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    You should probably get a copy of the "Diesel Spotter's Guide" which lists all the diesel models and roads that bought them and dates. (Is it still in print? even the oldest 2nd hand copy covers the transition.)
    Canada was later changing over from steam. CPR rolled it from west to east, and Ontario went down in 1959/1960.
    Most passenger cars were full length well before the transition.
  7. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    You can also run S.P. steam. I think the S.P. was two or three years behind the S.F. In both cases, the steam used in the West was generated by fuel oil rather than coal. In the transition era, the richest oil wells were in So. & Central California, Oklahoma, & Texsas, so oil was the cheapest fuel for them to run. Of course the other reason why S.P. would run oil fired locomotives were the cab forwards. It is much easier to send oil the length of an engine that is "running backwards" through a pipe than to try to engineer an automatic stoker. Having a fireman running the length of the locomotive with a shovel of coal would be out of the question.
  8. Dick Elmore

    Dick Elmore Member

    :thumb: Bob...I think you're a little confused. The "coal roads" that they are talking about are the eastern roads like N&W and Pennsylvania RR. etc. While the Santa Fe ran some coal, it was very limited. They ran mostly stock cars and reefers. The west was big cattle country, hence the stock cars, and S.F.
    hauled a lot of produce from the west coast to the midwest, hence the reefers. In the 40's they also had the best passenger and mail service in the country. The Union Pacific and the Southern Pacific were also two very large
    western roads in the transition era. But then I'm a little slanted on the subject because I operate the Santa Fe during that period.

    Texas Chief
  9. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Indeed, if one wanted to model late Santa Fe steam, the 1930's-40's would be a better choice--Santa Fe inaugurated their Chief/Super Chief/El Capitan series of trains with diesel power in 1936 (or was it 1938?) and streamlined steel cars. Passenger trains with steam power and heavyweight cars would be more appropriate to a 1920's-1930's era layout--and would be better suited to "old west" style towns, as opposed to the postwar era and the 1950's-60's when many of those western towns were in the process of modernization and expansion, and the only "old west" stuff you'd be likely to find would be the occasional tourist trap or dude ranch.

    Santa Fe, Southern Pacific and other Western railroads mostly handled foodstuffs: fresh fruit and vegetables have always been California's real gold, as well as cattle and grain from all over the West. Some tank cars are also handy for carrying that black gold (Texas tea) too...
  10. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member

    If you are interested in western transition era railroading with coal, what you want is Rio Grande in the early 1950's! Here are some pictures of a friend layout who is doing just that. He has coal, steel plant (Geneva), helper district, passenger operations (Califorina Zephyr), heavy articulated steam and diesels:

  11. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Bob, like David mentioned, different railroads converted from steam to deisel at different times. The first place to start is with some research. What you want to do is narrow down your choices. Either you have a favourite road and you pick the dates based on that prototype, or you have a favourite time period and you pick the RR based on that.

    You may not care much about strict accuracy when it comes to dates, in which case you can do whatever you want. However based on my experience, the longer you stay in this hobby, the more you will want accuracy. :)

    Another way around this is to invent your own RR - called freelancing. Then you can make up a history to suit your purposes.

  12. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    Another way around this is to invent your own RR - called freelancing. Then you can make up a history to suit your purposes.


    have to agree with Val on this point i'ts your RailRoad do what makes you happy i've been in hobby for over 40 years always done freelancing :wave:
  13. cobra

    cobra Member

    Bob , I'm working the time period you have suggested and agree with Jim about freelancing . Most onlookers will not know the difference . You will know, but can always explain things if need be .
    I have taken many liberties with my railroad because there are certain things I want , so I tweak History a little . It is still very plausible if not 100% accurate . I look upon this as a hobby , not an exact recreation of History . To each his own !


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